Participate in our research study to develop culturally relevant IT resources for elementary schools

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We are looking for primary schools in England to get involved in our new research study to find out how to adapt IT resources to make them culturally relevant for pupils. In a project in 2021we created guidelines which included ideas on how teachers can modify computer science lessons to be culturally relevant to their learners. In this new project, we will work closely with primary school teachers to explore this adaptation process.

Designing equitable and authentic learning experiences requires a conscious effort to consider the characteristics of all learners and their social environment.

This project will contribute to increasing the understanding of the educational community on ways to broaden participation in computing. The need to do so is demonstrated (as just one example among many) by the fact that in the 2017 English GCSE Computer Science cohort, Black students were the most underrepresented group. We will explore how resources tailored to be culturally relevant might influence students’ ideas about computing and contribute to their sense of identity as “computer scientist”.

In a computer science class, two girls are concentrating on their programming task.
We need to work to enable a more diverse group of learners to feel they belong in computing, encouraging them to choose to continue with it as a discipline in qualifications and careers.

This study is funded by the Cognizant Foundation and we are grateful for their generous support. Since 2018, the Cognizant Foundation has worked to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities to thrive in the jobs that shape the future. Their work is part of our mission to enable young people to realize their full potential through the power of computing and digital technologies.

What will participation in the project entail?

This culturally appropriate resource project will run between October 2022 and July 2023. It is inspired by ideas on how to bridge the gap between academic research and classroom teaching, and we are looking for 12 primary school teachers to work in close collaboration with our researchers and content writers. in three phases using a proven co-creation model.

Two children code on laptops while an adult supports them.
We will work closely with a group of teachers so that we can learn from each other.

By participating, you will gain an excellent understanding of culturally relevant pedagogy and develop your knowledge and skills in delivering culturally appropriate computer science courses. We value your expertise and insights into what works in your classroom, and we’ll listen to your ideas.

Phase 1 (November 2022)

We will launch the project with a one-day workshop on November 2 at our head office in Cambridge, which will bring together all participating teachers. (Funding is available for participating schools to cover supply costs and teacher travel costs.) In the workshop, we will first explore what culturally relevant and responsive IT means. Next, we will work together to review a mid-term computer science course unit of work and identify how it might be adapted. After the workshop day, we will produce an adapted version of the unit of work based on the teachers’ contributions and ideas.

Phase 2 (February to March 2023)

In the spring, teachers deliver the appropriate unit of work to their class in the second half of the term. Thanks to a survey before and after all the courses, the students will be asked about their point of view on computing. Throughout this time, the research team will be available for online assistance. We can also visit your school to observe one of the lessons.

Phase 3 (April to May 2023)

During this phase, the research team will ask participating teachers to share their experiences and find out if and how they adapted the lessons. Teachers will likely spend 2 to 3 hours in April or May share their ideas and recommendations. After this phase, we will analyze the results of the study and share the results with participating teachers and the wider computer science education community.

Who are we looking for to participate in this study?

For this study, we are looking for primary school teachers teaching computer science to 4th or 5th graders at a school in England.

  • You can be a general primary teacher who teaches all subjects to your age group, or you can be a specialist primary computer teacher.
  • To participate, your students will need access to desktop or laptop computers in the spring, but your school will not need specialized hardware or software.
  • You will need to attend the workshop in person in Cambridge on Wednesday 2 November and commit to the project for the remainder of the 2022/2023 academic year; funding is available for participating schools to cover costs of supplies and travel costs for teachers
  • Your headteacher will need to support your participation in the study

We will prioritize:

  • Schools where more than one teacher can attend
  • Schools with culturally diverse catchment areas
  • Teachers who know about our free Teach computer program resources for year 4 or year 5

Apply today to get involved

If you are an interested teacher, please apply to participate in this project on the closing date of Monday, September 26. If you have any questions, email us at [email protected].

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Paul N. Strickland